SupportWorld

SupportWorld, Jan/Feb 2013

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Not only have we seen an enormous shift on campus from PCs to Macs (at UMASS Boston, the split is 76% PC and 21% Mac), there's also been an explosion in the use of mobile devices—everything from iPhones and iPads to Android devices and BlackBerry smartphones. Our students are tech-savvy, style-conscious, and brand-loyal, and they enthusiastically embrace new technologies. Consider the technology profile of our student population: anytime, anywhere. The increasing diversity of technology on campus created new challenges for the UMASS Boston support staff, which historically had been geared toward supporting PCs and smartphones. (In 2010, we were only supporting BlackBerry smartphones. As faculty and staff began migrating to the iPhone, call volume increased, a trend we continue to see as faculty and staff adopt Android devices.) • 93% are online FY 2010 FY 2011 • 75% have a profile on a social network • 41% only use cell phones • 83% come to campus with a laptop • 62% own smartphones • 44% are iPhone users • 46% are Android users Call Volume Mobile Devices Supported FY 2012 20,460 28,875 30,005 BlackBerry iPhone BlackBerry iPhone iPad Android devices • 33% own desktop computers • 56% use them while on campus • 15% own tablets • 57% are iPad users • 25% use Android-based tablets • 12% own e-readers • 59% are Kindle users • 24% are Nook users Like our students, UMASS Boston has become increasingly reliant on technology, including academic-specific technologies for learning management, such as Blackboard, and general-purpose applications like blogs, wikis, iTunes U, lecture recordings, desktop applications, and enterprise systems. The university also has a robust online course offering that's experiencing tremendous growth. With 200–300 courses available each semester, many conducted by faculty members across the country, the number of students taking online courses has doubled over the past three years (to 31%). Based on student feedback, we know that they prefer a learning environment that blends technology with face-to-face instruction, and they want access to resources that contribute to their learning goals. To satisfy this growing population, we're currently evaluating a blended teaching program that combines face-to-face instruction with periodic online sessions throughout the semester. Like our other technologies, this, too, will challenge our support staff in new and interesting ways. The Support Challenge at UMASS Boston The reality is that supporting access to remote and online classes and delivering always-on connectivity to students, faculty, and staff alike can be a challenge for those of us sitting behind the support desk. Naturally, students want the freedom to use the latest mobile devices to access campus resources, and they expect us to support them. Similarly, faculty and staff see the value in using mobile devices to stay connected to their classroom content 32 | Suppor tWorld January / February 2013 At UMASS Boston, technical support runs lean, offering both walk-up and phone support. Our help desk is staffed primarily by students, who work part-time and bring their own devices. They provide tier 1 support for students, faculty, and staff, where the typical requests are for application access, network issues, and answers to "how-to" questions. Three full-time employees complete the team. Of the 2,000 support calls the help desk receives each month (on average), 200–300 are escalated to tier 2. Eight team members provide tier 2 support for hardware, networking, and other enterprise systems. For applications that require 24×7 availability, such as Blackboard, after-hours support is outsourced to a third party. The desktop team once consisted of six team members dedicated to PC support and one dedicated to Mac support. We've since had to cross-train staff and ensure that new hires have the skills to support multiple platforms. While it's not possible to provide support for every type of mobile device on campus, we try to have at least one of each of the primary devices available for the help desk staff to share. We also purchased iPhones and iPads for the support staff to play with and learn to use, so they could better support the university community. Securing Data in an Open-Access Environment Eighteen months ago, we brought a security officer on staff to help us support and secure access to data in a consistent fashion. However, as a higher-educational institution, access to content is generally more open than it is in other industries, and we get a lot of resistance from faculty and students when we start restricting access. As a result, we allow everyone to visit any site they want through the wireless network, which is divided into three segments: one for faculty and staff, one for students, and one for guests. Faculty access is granted (or restricted) based on login credentials. On their mobile devices, we install clients that automatically check for OS and McAfee antivirus updates, and we use TrueCrypt, a data-loss prevention program, to further secure the device. Like mobile devices, university-owned laptops are protected by

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